The idea that a child may not ever know how it feels to reel in a fish or the pride of hitting a target is what inspires members of the Mountaineer Chapter to host an event each year for children in need.
The West Virginia Children’s Home in Elkins helps disadvantaged youth ages 12 to 18. One way these youth develop healthy mindsets and adapt to positive environments is through educational activities that teach a variety of life skills. The Mountaineer Chapter helps meet this need by introducing Children’s Home residents to the joys of fishing and recreational shooting sports.
The day begins early. Chapter members take the youth on a short hike to a beautiful, natural spring that is home to countless trout. Members enjoy teaching the youth about proper fishing techniques and tricks learned throughout the years. “Some of these children have never held a fishing pole in their hands,” says chapter president Bruce Evans. Attendees enjoy this time so much that they fish through the morning and only break for lunch.
After a hearty, home-cooked lunch of hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, beans, and potatoes and a dessert of ice cream and cookies is served (and quickly consumed), youth head to the shooting range, where they learn how to safely handle firearms. After the tutorial, the youth spend the afternoon trying their hands with air rifles, air pistols, .22 rifles, and .22 pistols. The chapter provides all of the equipment.
The experience of being in a safe space with trustworthy adults is rare for these kids. The chapter hosts this event two to three times each year to not only teach the youth about the joys of being outdoors but to help them overcome personal obstacles — and possibly change their futures.